Bricks and
mortar.

Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience

On this Second Sunday after Christmas we reflect on and honor the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. As I reflected on this Solemnity, I just kept coming back to the term “bricks.”

The Holy Family is of course the perfect model of family. It is built with a solid foundation and perfect bricks. It is a structure fully showing what God intends when He calls us into family. This is the way it is supposed to be: father, mother, child/children. God calls us to strive for that perfection and He provides ready grace to strengthen it and fulfill all its purposes – the mutual love and support of the couple which comes first and foremost, and if intended and appropriate, the blessing of children.

Jesus came into the world as a baby, and progressed through childhood, to point to the perfect and indeed the possible. Follow Me He said – and we make every effort to do so. But sometimes we have to work with broken bricks.

Scripture does not hide the fact that God has worked through and with a lot of broken bricks. He worked with families odd, sinful, and all-to-familiar.

Cain kills his brother, the fruit of parents who tried to escape responsibility for sin. Jacob lies to his father to steal his brother’s inheritance (with his mom’s help). Jacob’s uncle duped him and practically turned him into a slave. Joseph got sold into actual slavery by his brothers and they then lied to their father. David killed to take a wife. David’s children didn’t do any better. His son Amnom was a rapist, his son Absalom tried to take his dad’s job and slept with his wives, and his son Solomon simply married everyone he wanted to sleep with. The prophet Hosea marries a prostitute who keeps running back to prostitution, Jesus’ family tree contains two prostitutes. Lots of broken bricks.

In the early church and to this day we don’t just welcome the broken bricks – that’s arrogant. Rather, we look to the broken bricks among us as family. We see that way because we too are broken bricks.

Broken bricks make the family of Christ, the Church, beautiful. God builds and He knows that broken brick makes the structure stronger. He knows this because Jesus is the mortar holding us together and making us perfect in His Father’s eyes.

This week’s memory verse: “And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 6:18
  • 10/13 – Proverbs 22:6
  • 10/14 – Genesis 2:24
  • 10/15 – 1 John 4:7
  • 10/16 – Ephesians 3:14-15
  • 10/17 – Acts 2:39
  • 10/18 – Joshua 24:15
  • 10/19 – John 17:21

Pray the week: Lord, bless and prosper every family united with You. Draw those who do not know You so that they share in our inheritance.

Merry
joymas.

He went down with them and came to Nazareth.

Merry joymas! We still have 72 days until the Solemnity of the Nativity, till Christmas. We are currently living in the secular season of Hallowthanksmas.

The Urban Dictionary defines this time as: “the holiday celebrating the most wonderful time of the year, October through December. It is a time of great warmth, sharing, parties, and of great American commercialism. People complain about overlapping holidays, but why? Embrace it as Hallowthanksmas!”

Those who wish to rile up the crowds un-celebrate this time by reminding us of Jesus being the ‘reason from the season’ and that we should always and everywhere wish everyone Merry Christmas … and not Happy Holidays. Churches jump on the bandwagon too, yet here we are, celebrating the Solemnity of the Christian Family in mid-October with scripture taken from a gospel heard in the Christmas season. We must be weird. We aren’t on the frontlines saying let ‘Christmas be Christmas.’ Rather, we are placing ourselves in the middle of the Christmas story today.

In the great grace of the Incarnation, the Son of God places Himself squarely in the middle of the human experience. The fullness of His being as true God and true man shows God’s infinite love for us, His infinite mercy, justice and power, and the Divine wisdom of His saving action. Not to save and go, stop and shop, but to join Himself totally with us so that He could model the way forward, the way we can follow as His fellow human beings. The way of family.

Those posting the memes of Jesus being the ‘reason from the season,’ those little sayings we see online or hear in conversation, have stumbled on a bit of wisdom. Jesus is indeed the reason for the season, but not just Christmas, f or every season. He is the way and the model for each and every day.

Today we place ourselves in the midst of that young Holy Family. Today we recognize that His way is the way for the totality of our existence and experience. In the Incarnation, among all the aspects of our humanity, God, Who lives as family, chose family. As our opening prayer teaches: “through family life we learn to love and care for others, we are everyone’s kin.” Today we celebrate this great gift of God’s family way of life, the way Jesus modeled. The way we must live. Happy joymas! 

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

The month of November is dedicated to remembering our dearly departed. As I reflect on this month, I cannot help but pause to consider what will happen to me. I do not do this to be morbid or to dwell on dark things, in fact I try to focus on those I will leave behind. I guess that’s one of those habits of a part time genealogist. I also like to annoy my family by telling them the songs I would like played at the post funeral repast. The one song I would love to have played is “Knocking On Heaven’s Door.” Any version is fine: Bob Dylan, Guns N’ Roses, or Eric Clapton. I particularly like Warren Zevon’s version or the Polish version by Babsztyl – “Pukając do nieba bram.” We often feel we are standing just outside heaven’s door. We stand there knocking. This takes two forms. One form of knocking is the kind we do every day – looking for reasons, seeking help, trying to get to an answer. The other form of knocking is the one we anticipate doing. What it will be like when I get there. Will I be left on the porch, at the gate, knocking and waiting? The hardest thing to get in our walk of faith is the sort of confidence that tells us ‘the door will be open.’ Yet, that is what Jesus promises us. The words above, taken from Matthew, Chapter 7, are the start of His promise. Jesus goes on to say: “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” He goes on to describe how our Heavenly Father will provide good to those who ask. He didn’t say these things so we would wonder or be fearful. In the Polish version, the singer cries out: Błagam Panie otwórz mi Zanim mrok pochłonie mnie. [I beg You, Lord, open the door Before darkness consumes me.] As we face this month of memory, and perhaps some self-reflection, let us take time to ask Jesus to reinforce our confidence. Let us realize we are never outside the door. We don’t have to knock, He has already opened the door for us.

Our newsletter discusses the month of November, the remembrance of our dearly departed, and includes a memorial for our former Pastor, Rt. Rev. śp. Stanley Bilinski, who entered his eternal rest just as the month began. Taking a simultaneously somber and hopeful approach, our newsletter covers events throughout the month. We prepare for the mailing of our Valentine’s Raffle tickets, the events of Advent, and two beautiful reflections on sharing our faith – plus one positive missionary step each of us can take. We also wish everyone a great Thanksgiving. Consider using the prayer included in the Newsletter.

Check out all this and more in our November 2018 Newsletter.

Coming from…
Going to…

“But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Today, we celebrate Heritage Sunday in our Holy Church. It is not a Liturgical Solemnity or Feast, but rather something added on to our typical Liturgical celebration of the Lord’s resurrection. It helps us to remember what the Lord’s Passion, death, and resurrection hand down to us. It also helps us remember what has been handed down to us by our ancestors.

The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews has a lot of focus on what has been handed down. After all, the Jewish people were all about what had been handed down by their ancestors – the Law with all its resulting customs and traditions. So, the writer riffs on the meaningfulness of what is handed down. Namely, in today’s passage, that Jesus went through all we face. That through faith and obedience to the Father’s will, Jesus became the premier servant of all – and gave up His life to serve all. The Father’s reward was resurrection and the opening of the gates of heaven to all who follow in Jesus’ footsteps.

Jesus came to serve and to set the example for us. The Apostles, the generations of saints and other holy men and women that followed in Jesus’ footsteps, lived out the writer’s advice to the Hebrews – it shall not be so among you. They made things different. They brought the change Jesus instituted forward.

This change applied down to the day of our grandparents and parents. They passed the gift of Jesus to us. It is now our gift to pass along.

This is what heritage is. It is all those wonderful things we own – the food, songs, pictures, stories, histories, legends, and heroism of our ancestors. More so, it is their greatest gift – the way they acted as Jesus acted, as servants. They served the people of our community and each of us by holding fast to Jesus’ way, His teachings.

We know where we come from, our heritage. It is a direct line back to Jesus – a testimony of our ancestors who faithfully served and passed that gift to us. Understanding that, we know where we come from and set our hearts on what we pass along and where we are going.

He stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”

We have been through a lot. The stresses and strains in our country, the sins in a particular Church, the judgyness of some church people, upcoming elections, old and upcoming investigations, and even family drama. It is all terrible. It all seems inconsistent with our ideals, with everything we have learned is right and good. As a pastor, I have been asked all kinds of issue questions, anything that would seem to press a reverend’s hot-button and provoke an extremist reaction. Let’s see if Jesus’ representatives blow a fuse over this or that. Jesus’ words to the crowd ready to stone the prostitute tell us two things. The first thing is that sin is real. Let him who is without… Jesus knows our reality. He Himself had to fight against it in the dessert after fasting for forty days. The second thing is the possibility of forgiveness and a road out – to salvation that Jesus conveyed to the prostitute. Both parties had a choice to make. The crowd could have rejected Jesus’ truth and could have thrown the stones. The prostitute could have also walked away and could have gone back to her ‘profession.’ One of the Church’s earliest thinkers, St. John Climacus, in his writing used the example of a ladder. He noted that when we chose Jesus, when we enter the life of the Church, we get on the first step of the ladder to heaven. The key to all of this is not Jesus’ tolerance, nor the rightness of the Church’s teaching. Jesus is indeed tolerant and the Church, by the light of the Holy Spirit, teaches the truth. Rather, the key is the light we need to see, the right we need to do. In the end, it is about our tolerance. None of us should have a ‘hot button’ that sets us off to judge, and if we do, we must get it in check. As followers of Jesus, we are called to the ultimate in tolerance. We are to see the person next to us, the person with the ‘hot button’ issue, and support them on their climb on the ladder to heaven.

Our October newsletter goes along side the season of change – and calls us to remember unchangeable things – love of family, acceptance and tolerance, lending a hand up the ladder. We celebrate family and heritage. We have a full calendar of events, Holy Synod, a rummage sale, and so much more. Check out all the activities coming up in November too. Find out why it is better to climb…

Check out all this and more in our October 2018 Newsletter.

Lift up
family.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”

At the Third Holy Synod of the Polish National Catholic Church, held in Chicago in December 1914 the Synod delegates resolved that the Second Sunday of October be dedicated as the Solemnity of the Christian Family. This Solemnity was meant as an opportunity for the Church to pray for the consolidation and strengthening of families. On this day we pray for all families; that they be strengthened and blessed.

It is great to have an idea, but as is said, we have to get the rubber to hit the road. So, how do we get there; how do we get families strengthened, blessed, and consolidated.

If you looked at our parish sign on the way in, you’d have noticed it now says “Rise Up With Jesus & Lift Others Here.”

This is how we get the rubber to hit the road.

We start by not ignoring our motivation. God’s entire creative effort was spurred by a desire to expand and build relationship. Since God had and has this desire for relationship within Himself, and since He made us in His relational image (Let us…), so we too desire relationship. We are motivated by relationship.

Relationship, of course, cannot be realized in motivation alone. That’s just frustrating and unproductive. So we take steps. We build friendships; we enter into relationships at many levels. Some are very close, some are more casual, but none are unimportant.

So we are motivated and so we try. But, being human as we are, we occasionally loose sight of what we must do to take relationship to the next level.

To get to the next level we must stay on message, we must build deeper and more meaningful relationships.

Of course the best proving ground for living our motivation, staying true to God’s relational life, is in our families. That is where we most intently and proactively rise with Jesus and lift each other up. In the microcosm of family relationship we motivate, comfort, provide love that is beyond reason, discipline, and sacrifice.

Now, from that microcosm, we are to expand the best of what we learn and do, rising with Jesus, raising up others, right here: consolidating, strengthening, blessing.

I am looking for a Catholic parish home.
I have serious questions and concerns.
I am a single parent.
I am divorced.
I have addictions.
I am not a typical catholic.

Can I attend Holy Mass in this parish?
YES YOU CAN!

Can I receive Holy Communion in this parish?
YES YOU CAN!

Can I be Catholic without being Roman Catholic?
YES YOU CAN!

Can our priests and bishops marry?
YES THEY CAN!

Can I receive valid sacraments?
YES YOU CAN!

Can I remarry in this parish?
YES YOU CAN!

Can I or my children be baptized in this parish?
YES YOU AND THEY CAN!

Can I be confirmed in this parish?
YES YOU CAN!

Can I ask questions and will I receive direct and honest answers?
YES YOU CAN!

Can I join you for Sunday Mass?
YES YOU CAN and YOU SHOULD!

Holy Name of Jesus professes the faith of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

We hold worship every Sunday at 9:30am and 11:30am.

When people think Catholic they may picture an old church, a city across the sea, rules and regulations, and formal worship… The Catholic Church is over 2,000 years old and is far more than that. It is faith that is universal and everlasting. It is faith expressed in many ways.

Many Churches refer to themselves as Catholic including the Orthodox, Oriental, Roman, and our National Catholic Church. Like all of these, the National Catholic Church is a Catholic Church. You will find that it helps you grow in your relationship with God, your community, and the wider world. We worship regularly and place special emphasis on proclaiming and teaching God’s Word as found in the Holy Bible. We are democratic in our organization. Every member has a voice and a vote in how the parish and the wider Church is run. We are fully accountable to our members.

We are here to be a home for you and yours.

Welcome!

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

The world is in our face, and the struggles of many are on our conscience. In this constant onslaught, we are called by many voices into judgment on matters of human dignity. Many voices call us to make judgments – and in many respects to value one thing over and against another, one person over another, one policy over another. Because this is the perpetual situation in the world, the words of Jesus must be first and foremost in our minds and hearts. His teaching and way must be our guide. I have heard many of these voices: A man shouting in a store: “No one cares about kids killing each other in Chicago, why should we care about these kids.” Posts on Facebook that call out all the ways children suffer in our nation – those killed in the womb, those separated from parents by imprisonment or divorce, and other factors. The writer implies that our concerns for ‘each’ child is not good enough. In all of these the speaker or writer is calling us to chose, to judge. What many seem to miss is our call as Christians to respect the dignity of each and every human being. No sin, no misstep in God’s eyes, decreases a person’s dignity. No color, background, ethnic identity, financial standing, orientation, national origin, or self-identity makes a human being less in God’s eyes. Nothing ever must lessen the respect and honor we owe to all. True, Jesus calls all to reformation, to change and reconciliation. He often said: Go, and sin no more. People responded and did exactly that – they were changed. What we must remember is that Jesus never allowed the sin of anyone to bar the door. He called all to change because all have equal dignity in His eyes. Our call is to live our aspirations – to be the absolute best by living in full accord with God’s call. Let us never aspire to exclude, but to include. Let us aspire to open hearts and open doors, to reform and love as Jesus says we must. To respect and protect the dignity of each person.

Our July/August newsletter offers congratulations on several very special events in our parish, highlights our great summer activities, celebrates our Country’s independence, remembers our dearly departed brother śp. Richard, and gets to preparations for Back to Church Sunday – September 16th. The newsletter offers tips and advice for homebound faithful so they can stay sacramentally involved and connected. Let us know if we can help.

We also sadly reflect on the decline of the Roman Catholic Church in Schenectady and the challenges facing that Church. The National Catholic Church program is the best and strongest response and protection for its members. Parish property, finances, and the future of each parish are fully in the hands of its members, not distant bishops and ‘popes.’ We are thankful for that legacy. If you know someone who seeks the fulness of Catholic life and all the sacraments each Sunday, invite them to Holy Name. If you are looking for a place to express the Catholic faith as believed and celebrated by the undivided Church of the first millennium, join us here in Mont Pleasant. You Belong Here!


Check out all this and more in our July/August 2018 Newsletter.

I have much more to say to you, but right now it would be more than you could understand.

Jesus spoke those words in His final instructions to His Apostles and disciples, the night of the Last supper. Jesus, in His infinite wisdom and love, knew they were not quite ready for everything He had to tell them. It remains that way today. Jesus has many things for us to understand and to accomplish. He does not just lay it all on us at once, but rather, as we are ready. In the verse after this one, Jesus goes on to say: The Spirit shows what is true and will come and guide you into the full truth. That is great consolation – that the Holy Spirit would come, has indeed come – to guide us and train us in all of God’s truth and in Jesus’ desire for our future. As parents, grandparents, and family members we hold great expectations for our children’s futures. Obviously, we don’t lay it all on them at the age of two – ‘this is everything I expect you to accomplish.’ It would be too much, and frankly too presumptuous. Rather, we instruct and guide, pave the way forward. We watch as our children evolve. As young people, we come to realize that the expectations of others, and those we place on ourselves, may not often turn out the way anyone expects – but yet in a way we have been prepared for all along. During the month of June we take pause to consider God’s desire for us. We hopefully stop, shut out the noise, and listen to the things He is revealing to us. His revelation is now. Stop, listen, and feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit, His nudge in a certain direction and for a glorious purpose. Jesus puts His desires on our hearts and minds, He leads us by the sending forth of the Holy Spirit. We have to realize that when He says we are ready – we indeed are ready. Jesus and the Spirit are never before the right time, never before we can bear it, but when we are ready. Have we heard Him speak? Will we take up His charge? Having heard, it is time to say ‘Yes LORD.’

The June newsletter offers tons of information on vocations. Read our Bishop’s Pastoral Letter. Pray fervently and diligently for the gift of vocations. Read from the Fathers on humility and sacrifice. Join us on Father’s Day for Holy Mass and breakfast, and pray for the special men in our lives. Check out our list of summer events and happenings. Read up on ‘saints’ who hate us and false apparitions and visions. Jesus is indeed the final word and we should be following His teaching; all that and more in our June 2018 Newsletter.